Ah those wistful childhood days when summers felt like a lifetime, the wider world was an adventure waiting to happen, and we felt forever safe in the welcoming cocoon of the family home. Tim Bird’s Golden Days looks to recreate what for many will be remembered as a halcyon era, in a short comic that revisits many of the oft-visited themes of Bird’s practice. But this time it does it through the lens of youthful memory.
Of course not all childhoods are idyllic but in Golden Days Bird provides a short piece of (presumed) graphic memoir that will no doubt evoke familiar feelings of nostalgia for many, and take readers back to a period of time when they perceived the world around them with a very different mindset. This is a tale of mucking around with your pals after school and the scrapes we would all get into while amusing ourselves in the most pointless of ways.
We follow two school mates as they use a supermarket shopping trolley as a downhill go-kart, come a cropper on a rope swing over a river, and generally attempt to assuage their boredom with reckless antics and endless exploration. Golden Days is a wordless story that showcases Bird’s ability as a visual storyteller to bring the reader directly into his characters’ experiences with a simple eloquence that is elegant in delivery and speaks to us all the more profoundly for its narrative refinement and economy.
By opting to focus entirely on visual storytelling Bird connects with us on an emotional rather than intellectual level. If, in particular, you went to school in a pre-internet era in the UK then you will undoubtedly see something of yourself in our two protagonists. Golden Days, though, is not entirely about a carefree past as a series of recurring motifs seem to hint at the finite and transient nature of what we are observing. Time will eventually consume these moments and recast the two boys’ lives in a very different light.
Every Tim Bird comic is effectively an entry point to his work but Golden Days is an especially strong place to start for those unfamiliar with this UK small press mainstay’s comics. And as an added bonus it’s at a very affordable price.
Tim Bird (W/A) • Self-published, £4.00
Review by Andy Oliver